ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), an international Association of cities, established in 1989 with more than 1500 members nowadays, held its 10th World Congress in Montreal, Canada from June 19 to 22, 2018.
The Congress was inaugurated by the recently elected Mayor of Montreal, Valerie Plante, and the president of ICLEI, Ashok Sridharan, Lord Mayor of Bonn. The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres and the Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul in Korea, who had been the former president of ICLEI, sent greetings via Video recording.
The main discussions can be summarized in the statements:
- The future of humanity is urban
- Cities are driving the change
- Cities are going international getting more and more involved in the Global Agendas
- If cities fail, the Global Agendas will fail, the world will fail
- The right mobility concepts play a very relevant role in this process
- Multi- stakeholder coalitions are required.
These statements are not new; however, they strongly echo the spirit of the Conference based on the power and the empowerment of cities encouraged to go ahead, become visible on international level seeking sustainable solutions.
The GIZ Urban Nexus Project had the chance to facilitate the following two events and promote the urban Nexus approach:
- Applying the urban Nexus: Localizing global agendas and promoting vertical integration, experiences from Asian cities.
- Thirsty cities: Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water
Applying the urban Nexus: Localizing global agendas and promoting vertical integration, experiences from Asian cities
This session facilitated by Ruth Erlbeck/Project Director of the GIZ Urban Nexus Project, drew lessons and insights from the regional GIZ Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities: The Urban Nexus Project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The Urban Nexus approach, implemented in secondary cities across seven countries in Asia including China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam looks at synergies and trade-offs in the water, food, and energy sectors. As such, the project works in the areas of secure water supply and sanitation systems, energy security and efficiency, land use, physical planning, and food security. Recognizing that these areas can go beyond the immediate sphere of influence of city governments, the project collaborates with relevant national ministries. Moreover, employing the urban Nexus approach contributes to the realization and localization of various global agendas including the New Urban Agenda, 2015 Paris Agreement, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ruth Erlbeck started off by giving a brief overview of the project followed by a vibrant discussion with the following Nexus partner cities and partner organizations:
- Ms. Nanda Jichkar, Mayor, Nagpur, India
- Mr. John Bongat, Mayor, Naga City, Philippines
- Mr. Curt Garrigan, Chief, Sustainable Urban Development Section Environment and Development Division. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Bangkok
- Mr. Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI and Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia.
Different concrete pilot projects implementing the urban Nexus approach in Nagpur and Naga City were shared with the audience (innovative waste water management with reuse of waste water, 24x7 water supply saving water and energy, affordable, resilient housing technologies and solid waste management concentrating on reduce, reuse, recycling, interactive sustainable urban development planning).
Various challenges being faced by cities in the pursuit of integrated resource management (urban Nexus) were discussed (access to finance, missing support from national governments for integrated, innovative approaches) as well as how national – local dialogues contribute in strengthening vertical integration. In a final discussion round the general consensus was that cities strongly contribute to the Global Agendas. However, they might not always be aware of the fact that their infrastructure projects improving urban services are a relevant contribution regarding the localization of these Agendas. In the end, this does not matter! What matters is the improvement of urban services including pro-active citizens’ involvement and integrated resource management approaches (cross sectorial infrastructure projects) thinking out of the box.
Thirsty cities: Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water
Ruth Erlbeck introduced the second session on Thirsty cities by the quote: “Water is life, contaminated water might mean death”.
It was emphasized during the session that water supply always has to bear in mind waste water management as a consequence of water consumption. Water supply and waste water management including sanitation are intrinsically interlinked, reflecting two sides of the same coin. Unfortunately, this is often neglected by policy makers and development organizations causing severe problems in the aftermaths of water supply projects increasing the amount of water supplied without offering respective solutions for discharge or reuse of waste water.
Huge water leakages amounting to 50% and more in some of the piped water supply networks of cities (Mexico D.F., Lagos, etc.) aggravate the increasing water crisis caused by droughts becoming more frequent.
The careless usage of ground water without adequate recharge and knowledge about existing ground water reserves leads to sinking cities (e.g. Jakarta) and salt water seepage in coastal areas as well as to cities running out of water and followed by desertification (Beijing, Ulaanbaatar e.g.) due to reduced rainfall because of climate change.
The reason for these phenomena result from poor water and waste water management.
The objective of the session was to analyze the reasons for poor water management basically caused by:
- Deficient water and waste water governance (framework conditions, policies, tariffs, etc.)
- Institutional fragmentation and lack of coordination (separation of water and waste water utilities, e.g.)
- Infrastructure challenges such as missing, aging or not adequate physical water & waste water infrastructure
- Missing cross-sectorial Nexus approaches (integrated resource management)
and come up with some solutions.
Five discussants mentioned below presented water crisis examples & solutions (Cape Town, The struggle for clean water in Canada’s indigenous communities”), best practices (Nagpur/India on 24x7 and reuse of treated waste water) as well as results of studies (OECD and UNESCAP) on the water governance crisis and possible solutions.
- Jichkar Nanda, Mayor, Nagpur, India
- Johannes Van Der Merwe, Councilor of Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning, City of Cape Town, South Africa
- Yannick Beaudoin, Director General, Ontario and Northern Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
- Aziza Akhmouch, Head of the Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development Division, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), France
- Curt Garringan, Chief, Sustainable Urban Development Section at UNESCAP, Bangkok.